The Crime Writers’ Association

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller, ‘one simply has to turn the pages’. Eligible books in this category are thrillers set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, psychological thrillers and action/adventure stories.

Current holder

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2021 Winner

Michael Robotham

When She Was Good

Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group

An urgent, poignant and terrifying thriller. This page-turner will hold your attention until you get to the very last page.




Charles CummingBox 88HarperFiction, HarperCollins
Robert GalbraithTroubled BloodSphere, Little, Brown Book Group
Ryan GattisThe SystemPicador, Pan Macmillan
Ian RankinSong for the Dark TimesOrion Fiction, The Orion Publishing Group
Rod ReynoldsBlood Red CityOrenda Books
Craig RobertsonWatch Him DieSimon & Schuster
Michael RobothamWhen She Was GoodSphere, Little, Brown Book Group
Catherine Ryan HowardThe Nothing ManAtlantic Books
Stuart TurtonThe Devil and the Dark WaterRaven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing
Ruth WareOne by OneHarvill Secker, Vintage
Holly WattThe Dead LineRaven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing
Chris WhitakerWe Begin at the EndZaffre, Bonnier

The Judges

Corinne Turner (Chair)
Corinne has managed and helped develop authors’ literary estates for around 30 years. She is Managing Director of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd and also owns and manages the literary estate of children’s author, Willard Price.

Karen Blewett
Karen worked in the publishing industry for over 20 years, in a variety of senior financial and commercial roles for Dorling Kindersley and Little, Brown. While her day job involved numbers and systems, her first love has always been reading.

Thanhmai Bui-Van
Thanhmai has been a bookseller, book buyer and now works in sales at Titan Books. Crime fiction has been a constant in her book career and she says, ‘over the years it’s been a pleasure discovering new authors.’

Tom Fleming
Tom Fleming is the longstanding deputy editor of Literary Review. He also writes for The Spectator, The TLS and Apollo, among other publications.

Richard Heffer
Born in Cambridge into the family of HEFFERS BOOKSHOP.
Worked as a professional actor from 1968, in Theatre, Film, Radio and Television worldwide until 2005. A great fan of all periods of crime fiction, and keen to encourage new writing.

Ayo Onatade
Ayo Onatade is a CWA Red Herring Award winning freelance crime fiction critic, reviewer and blogger. She has an eclectic taste in crime fiction, which runs the gamut from historical crime fiction to hardboiled and short stories. A former Chair of the CWA Short Story Dagger and judge of the Ngaio Marsh Award.

Ian Fleming Publications – Sponsors of the Steel Dagger

Ian Fleming Publications Ltd is the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand, by promoting and making available all of Ian Fleming’s 007 books across the world. They also keep the brand alive through the publication of new stories by authors such as Anthony Horowitz, William Boyd, Jeffery Deaver, Sebastian Faulks, Raymond Benson, John Gardner, Kingsley Amis, Steve Cole and Charlie Higson. Alongside James Bond publishing, the company also manages the rights for Fleming’s two non-fiction books and his only children’s book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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